Intuitive Eating (IE) is a transformational approach to improving your relationship with food and body. IE introduces many new concepts that dieters have often never heard about. Concepts like the idea of “diet mentality” and how it might be holding you back from peace with food. Or concepts such as permission to eat and who are the food police and how do we disarm them?
One very important thing true intuitive eaters also learn is that Intuitive Eating is not about weight loss.
In fact, true intuitive eating and intentional weight loss are quite opposite.
And yet, people often still want to lose weight when they start intuitive eating.
I know I did.
Still, I forged on with intuitive eating, because something about it felt like truth and was drawing me towards it. I’m glad I kept going because through my journey I learned a lot about weight and weight loss.
For example, I learned that the desire to lose weight came from outside of me. I was taught and conditioned to feel that way.
I learned that the desire to lose weight comes from thinking that having a certain body or a certain look would solve all my problems.
I learned that women are actually being oppressed by being made to feel like they need to lose weight to be acceptable.
I learned that people are discriminated against for being in bigger bodies which also feeds the fear of being in a bigger body, but it's the discrimination that is wrong.
I learned that weight loss isn't sustainable biologically and it's not my lack of willpower that was sabotaging me during all those years of chronic dieting (ages 12-42).
I learned that making women feel like they need to be a certain size is an attempt to control them and to literally and figuratively keep them small. Who has time for big dreams when counting calories and exercising non-stop?
I learned that I liked dieting due to the feeling of control it gave me. It made me feel like I was doing something "productive" and doing "the right thing" which was so appealing to my people pleasing personality.
Dieting also gave me a structure for when life felt rather chaotic.
And then I learned that fat in itself is not inherently bad or unhealthy and that much of what we assume about fat has been promoted by a fat phobic consumerist culture and much of the fear is completely unwarranted. (For example, BMI is bullshit, obesity is not really a disease, pre-diabetes is not a thing, and weight stigma leads to more health issues than the weight itself.)
People have written entire books on debunking many of these myths and ideas around weight. A few of my favorites are Body Of Truth by Harriet Brown and The Obesity Myth by Paul Campos, as well as Health at Every Size by Linda Bacon.
Naturally, learning all this made me want to completely let go of the desire to lose weight. I feared that if I didn’t let go, not only was I a terrible person, but I would be sabotaging my progress and might even gain more weight. What a mind f*ck.
And still there have been days that I have wanted to lose weight.
And that is ok.
Knowing what I know now can't change the fact that for the first 40 years of my life, I was programmed to always want to lose weight.
People have many reasons for wanting to lose weight.
So thoughts of weight loss aren't always going to immediately disappear when you step on the path to body love and acceptance.
If you still have those thoughts, please don't start judging yourself for that. I did, and it didn't help.
It's ok and in fact necessary to acknowledge the parts of the woman inside of me who still has this thought on occasion. Now I invite her to the table and let her know I hear her and I understand her concern but I've got this.
I make her contributions feel welcome even if I don't do what she says or agree with her anymore.
All contributions need to be appreciated and respected. You can't bind and gag the parts of yourself you don't like and abandon them. What you resist persists.
Have you ever tried to stifle how you feel? How can you allow all of your feelings? Once you allow all the different viewpoints, then you can choose which ones feel better or move you more towards the person you want to be.
For example, the idea that I need to be smaller to be acceptable doesn’t feel good in my body and the idea that I am worthy no matter what feels great! But I don’t want to push away or resist the first thought, or judge it for being fat phobic, I want to notice it and let it be.
As I say all the time, notice and allow, notice and allow. And if you can't allow, then allow that. (This teaching comes from Jim Dethmer.)
If we stop trying to lose weight but then feel bad about wanting to lose weight, we are still flooding our system with feelings and thoughts of doubt and fear.
It’s ok, it’s not your fault and you are doing a great job trying to sort all of this out! You are not a bad person for wishing things were different. But focusing on what you wish was different or focusing on wishing you didn’t think a certain way puts your attention and your energy on things that feel uncomfortable and lock in that feeling of discomfort.
Now when I have the thought that I wish I were smaller, I tell myself “of course you would feel that way! It’s perfectly understandable!” and I acknowledge the feeling rather than push it away.
What feelings have you had a hard time letting go of with Intuitive Eating or making peace with food and your body? Stay tuned for the next blog post that will expand further on how we may be halting our own progress by not acknowledging our feelings.